Climate change threatens Afghan health
Source: Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan; World Health Organization (WHO)
Kabul, 7 April 2008 – As the impact of climate change on food and water becomes more widely recognised Afghanistan’s Minister for Public Health called for increased efforts to protect the health of Afghan people from the dangers of global warming on World Health Day.
“2008 must be the year that everyone becomes aware of the real health issues at stake with rising global temperatures and the need for all of us to take urgent action.
“The science is clear – the earth is warming and impacts directly on availability of water and food resources.” This is the stark message that Minister of Health Dr. Sayed Amin Fatemi and the World Health Organization’s Peter Graaff gave today to mark World Health Day 2008.
Dr. Sayed Amin Fatemi and Peter Graaff called for every Afghan to give new energy and commitment to making the fundamental changes in their lifestyles that will stabilize the climate and help prevent shortages in food and water supplies for Afghanistan’s people.
Visiting a malaria and leishmania centre in Darulaman, Kabul, Minister of Health Dr. Sayed Amin Fatemi said:
“We all have a role to play in mitigating the impact of climate change, by ensuring efficient use of our existing food and water resources, reducing pollution from our vehicles and using our land more efficiently.”
Climate change, in addition to other factors, may have triggered a malaria epidemic at an altitude of 2,400 meters in the Yakawlang district of Bamyan province where there were 15 deaths. Ministry of Public Health data from 2004-2007 shows an increase of malaria cases in districts across the country with temperate climate.
World Health Organization’s Afghanistan Representative, Peter Graaff said:
“Health needs to be at the center of all climate change policies – tackling climate change can create healthier, safer and fairer communities. Health is one of the areas most affected by climate change – and it is being affected now.”
Clean air is considered to be a basic requirement of human health and well-being, however, air pollution continues to pose a significant threat to health worldwide. Three decades of war, destruction, de-forestation and drought have affected the climate and environment in Afghanistan and Kabul currently has the most polluted air in the country.
All populations are vulnerable, but the poor are the first and the hardest hit. Climate change threatens to reverse our progress in fighting diseases of poverty, and to widen the gaps in health between the richest and the poorest.
If current global warming trends remain uncontrolled, humanity will face more injury, diseases and deaths related to natural disasters and heat waves; higher rates of foodborne, water-borne, and vector-borne diseases; and more premature deaths and disease related to air pollution. Large populations will be displaced by drought and famine. As glaciers melt, the hydrological cycle shifts and the productivity of arable land changes.
The health impacts of climate change will be difficult to reverse in a few years time. Yet, many of these impacts can be avoided or controlled. Reducing pollution from transport, efficient land use and improved water management have all been shown to have a positive impact against the effects of climate change.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
To find out more about the Ministry of Public Health’s activities, please visit: http://www.moph.gov.af
For further information in Dari, Pashto or English, media should contact:
Dr. Abdullah Fahim, Spokesperson, Ministry of Public Health:
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